Food network star Guy Fieri admits, “I’ve never been an apron fan; it’s all too cumbersome to me.’
The Longenecker men didn’t wear aprons. To his credit, my dad did dry dishes but only on Sundays, and without an apron.
Beaman Men in Three Generations have worn aprons. Here’s proof: Curtis operating the mixer, husband Cliff making tuna salad, and his father Lee preparing gravy for Thanksgiving dinner.
Longenecker Women in more than three generations have worn Aprons. My sisters and I wear aprons handmade by Grandma.
The Next Generation – Gender doesn’t matter to me. Actually, yes, it does. Boys as well as girls can wear aprons on kitchen duty. I must admit, however, Curtis may need something less frilly. Denim perhaps.
Jenna and I have made a rainbow cake together. She has made cookies on her own and helped host a lemony tea party wearing an apron.
Aprons appear in my memoir manuscript: some snippets here
Grandma must have spotted us coming down over the hill because we saw her leaving the garden with a pile of green beans cradled in her cotton apron. By the time we rushed in the back door, Grandma with a huff of her breath wiped off sweaty spots from her wire-rimmed glasses with her apron. It had a big bib on top and a skirt with a pocket to hold a hanky for wiping our tears, just in case. Grandma had a broad forehead, wide smile, big belly, and soft lap. We loved going to Grandma’s.
“Sit down a spell and catch your breath,” she invited as she transferred the beans she would snap soon from the lap of her apron into her speckled blue ceramic bowl.
It was a cool day, but the warm light of late afternoon cast a soft glow on the handle of Grandma’s stirring spoon. My cheeks were getting hot and Grandma wiped my face with her greeen-edged apron, her pocket bulging a little with a cotton handkerchief she had substituted for the mint tea sprigs she often brought in from her garden. I put the last square patch of dough into the bubbling broth just as Aunt Ruthie came in the back door from school with a yellow pencil over her ear.
I saw Grandma with her broad smile and navy blue and white feedbag apron, bunched up and twirled around her arms to keep away the chill. Skinny, black covering strings blew in the brisk breeze and then dangled from her large prayer covering. I never noticed until then that it had six big pleats in back.
Even now when I pull down cloves and nutmeg from the shelf, I can sense pinpricks of spicy warmth on my nostrils as Grandma stooped to lift twin pies out of the oven, one by one with her apron and hot pads.
I fled to the kitchen where my mother, her half-apron bow sagging, stood beside the sink crushing Saltines with her hands to make salmon casserole she would put into the oven before church tomorrow. We had just finished eating our Saturday night supper, the cook’s-night-off menu of Breyer’s 3-flavor ice cream, the box filled with creamy goodness served with Wege’s handmade pretzels along with Utz’ potato chips, a special treat.
In the nick of time, Mother opened our front door, a sunbeam twinkling from the greenish glass of the transom above, I noticed. Mom wore a terry-cloth cotton half apron printed with apple blossoms tied in a bow behind her waist. She always wore an apron, and she always wore a covering on her head. From morning till night, her prayer cap held tight.
The Many Uses of Aprons
Probably women in your heritage have worn aprons. Maybe you do too. I’m guessing none of the Real Housewives on reality shows today wear them though. Years ago, McCalls and Advance offered apron patterns for women to sew. Along with protecting the dress underneath from getting dirty, aprons wiped away perspiration, tears from fussy children, dusted furniture when unexpected company arrived and served as hiding places for shy kids. Read some more uses here.
I’m in need of a man apron. A very manly apron, says Mike D
Do real men wear aprons?
Who in your family wears or has worn an apron?
Apron stories or comments – all invited here – thank you!
You have some great photos here. My father and husband wear or wore aprons when they are doing heavy duty barbecuing for a large group–but not for run-of-the-mill-steak-on-a-Saturday night for just us. Our pastor gave Stuart a Presbyterian USA logo apron in appreciation for Stuart’s work running a huge grill at summer cookouts or the griddle at the Shrove Tuesday pancake supper. I don’t think either man would ever don one like your grandson’s! But I love the one Curtis is wearing. A real man doesn’t really mind. 🙂
Your post brought many apron memories to mind: remember the white frilly see-through aprons used by those waiting tables or helping with food at a wedding reception? Or a banquet at school (Mennonite high school)? I think we even wore them when we served at our annual fish fries at Bethany Christian. We wore white blouses, black skirts, and the frilly white apron, or our best facsimile of the same. Oh my. Thanks for the memories.
Your comments piqued a faint memory about those wedding reception aprons. I’m thinking organdy or batiste with a huge ruffle around the edges. Now I wonder whether I wore one.
Your Stuart has a servant’s heart. I can tell from photos on your posts. He seems “steady in the boat,” never calling attention to himself. Thanks for the memories here, Melodie.
Good morning, Marian! You have some wonderful photos and memories. I’ve never worn an apron, except, I think in 7th and 8th grade home ec classes. My mom didn’t wear them either. I don’t think my dad washed dishes until after he and mom were divorced, but my husband certainly does. He generally does the dinner dishes–but no apron. 🙂
Your Doug is a prince; I can tell he helps in the kitchen and appreciates your wonderful cooking. Something in your comment gave me pause: “I don’t think my dad washed dishes until after he and mom were divorced.” Reading between he lines, I assume he came to family dinners and helped out. Hmmmmm
You read into it more than was there, Marian. No, I meant when he was on his own, he was forced to wash dishes. 🙂 However, he did come to family dinners, off and on. My parents had a long and complicated relationship.
Okay, I get it. Thanks.
I love your excerpts, Marian. Such good vivid, sensory-rich writing.
My mother and all my women relatives wore aprons and used them in just the multiple ways you describe. I have a fun apron a friend gave me with a rooster on the front. I don’t wear it for “every day,” but I sometimes greet guests with it on.
Stuart will put one on if he is rolling out pie dough. That can get messy. But he prefers to just wash his clothes afterward. 🙂
I can imagine the rooster-fronted apron makes your dinner guests feel instantly at ease. Your Stuart sounds like a practical guy. Cliff always slops on his shirt – at home, in restaurants. He still has the apron you see in the photo from 3-4 years ago. Sometimes I have to “Shout” out the stains.
Thanks for the nod about the memoir snippets. Much appreciated, Shirley!
My husband’s Grandmother lived in northwest Georgia her entire life. When we were in college we’d occasionally drive up from Atlanta and spend a weekend with her. She was the best cook I’ve ever known and wore a fresh apron each day. We were hungry, homesick kids and she made sure we got plenty of good southern cooking and love. And when our visits ended and we drove away, I’d look over my shoulder to see her apron tossed over her head, hiding her tears.
“A fresh apron every day” sounds like a tidy Grandmother. Back in those days, most women didn’t have many dresses, so an apron took less material to make and was easier to change than a full outfit. Some people think aprons are germ carriers, but to quote the last link on the post: “I don’t think I ever caught anything from an apron – but love.”
Your poignant last line made me tear up: I’d look over my shoulder to see her apron tossed over her head, hiding her tears.” You caught the love too. Thanks, Lynn.
My mother had a couple of half-aprons she used, especially when fixing a holiday dinner. She would be in the kitchen cooking, and greet visitors with the apron on. when it came off, we knew the meal was ready.
A couple of years ago I made a full bib apron for a good friend, who wanted one for cleaning around her big old house. she requested and received one made with a leopard print!
Ginger, it sounds like you are clever and crafty. A leopard print is bold, maybe like your good friend. It would certainly hide the spots.
I never heard of an apron as a signal – maybe more subtle than a dinner bell for calling everyone to the table. Thanks for adding to our conversation here again!
I’m all for aprons to protect the clothes Marian though I admit, mine are of a plainer variety and missing the pocket for the hankie.
xxx Huge Hugs xxx
Well, Sir David, you are dapper as it is and probably don’t need apron embellishment. It does the job, doesn’t it? Huge hugs back to you! ((( )))
More than the aprons they wear, both my husbands and both my sons (one set consecutively, one set concurrently) have worn aprons, though only when their clothes demanded protection. And isn’t that when women wear them too? I know I certainly don’t usually wear an apron. But when I do, or when Woody does, we have a bright red William Sonoma full length apron that we grab. Hmmm, which one of us will get to it first this Thanksgiving? Thanks for a clever and fun post, Marian.
Fun comment, Janet. What a line up of male apron wearers, able to withstand stains from barbecue, wine, or ketchup. Thanks!
Lovely post Marian thank you😀 I think I’m gonna get me an apron. I will hunt far and wide for an apron I love to wear. I have never worn one and my husband neither. you would think I would have learned my lesson by now. Just yesterday a tiny beetroot stain on a pretty top. I dealt with it immediately …
Such tender memories – you write of them beautifully and your excerpts from memoirs are just delightful. Bent my heart a little …
Are there aprons at airports? I reckon I was on an apron at the airport this morning leaving home for Cape Town – and was on the apron when I arrived. Not 100% sure this is used correctly….
The photos are lovely! Curtis’ one stood out for me 😀
Actually, Curtis wore my apron in the photo, a frilly number as a present from a friend. At the time, Cliff’s denim size was too large for him. Now at 5′ 8″ he could wear it with a little tucking up.
Blessings on your search for just the right apron. You probably wouldn’t find one at an airport unless they have a Williams Sonoma shop (or the South African culinary equivalent).
I’m touched by your mentioning that my memoir excerpts “bent your heart a little.” Thank you, Susan. And safe travels!
I enjoyed reading your post 🙂 Yes, I wear an apron when I have my Sunday clothes on and working in the kitchen after church. We usually have 6-8 people at our table for Sunday lunch. My hubby always does the dishes and this past Sunday……..I said to him “here put this apron so you don’t get your good clothes ruined” He promptly said ” I will go and change my clothes” 🙂 no apron for him 🙂 Our daughter who is great with tea parties wears an apron frequently and so does her granddaughter. I had to smile at the way aprons were used for many reasons….years ago. I liked your grandson in an apron but I think a denim apron would be more fitting. 🙂
I had to smile a little when you mentioned your husband would rather change his clothes than wear an apron. Ha! Thanks for sharing about your Sunday dinners too. I bet you are a good cook. Do you do all the cooking or do others bring in menu items for potluck?
Not long ago I wrote a post about a tea party Jenna helped me with. You probably saw it. If not, there is a link for it near her picture. It’s always nice to hear from you, Bertha. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here.
Marian — I enjoyed looking at the wide variety of aprons throughout your photographs. Both Len and I are bib-style apron wearers. His is a blue and white stripped Paris bistro apron, while mine is a plain white butcher’s apron, now covered in permanent character (stains).
Well, Laurie, you surprise me. I picture the efficient, minimalist you knowing how to dodge stains. But as you suggest, they do impart “character.” Imagine a blog post: What stains are on your apron?” (Maybe needs a little tweaking!)
After all, “no mud, no lotus” is one of your favorite mantras. Ha!
My mom always insisted on me wearing an apron when I helped around the house, and for that reason I hated aprons, and didn’t wear them for the longest time. Why did I have to and my brothers didn’t?! I wear it now if I’m preparing a Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner, or baking with yeast dough.
I always remember the story of John Wesley’s mother putting her apron over her head when she was praying to God. (She had a lot of kids and they all knew not to bother her when she did that). Using an apron that way appeals to me!
What is a transom?
Susanna Wesley was an amazing woman. Thanks for sharing that story. I don’t think their house was big enough for a prayer closet. Another blogger has shared Susanna’s prayer apron story in more detail here: http://sharonglasgow.com/2013/07/susanna-wesleys-prayer-apron-powerful-life-story/
A transom is a small hinged window above a door. We had one above our front door and this greenish window could be opened for ventilation while the door remained closed.
It’s always good to hear from north of the border. Thank you, Elfrieda.
Thanks, I happened across that blog as well Marian, and enjoyed reading it.
A transom is a window over a door. Remember in the old school rooms? The door could be closed but then the windows and the transom window would be open for ventilation.
Exactly, Athanasia! I remember we had one in our two-room school at Rheems Elementary.
I’ve never worn an apron in my life except as a little kid under pressure from my mother. I, too, hate them.
You are a woman who knows her mind, Mary Sue. Yay! Your statement reminds me of one of our past presidents who said, “I hate broccoli, and I’m the President now so no one is going to make me eat it!” 😀
Touched by your story. My father was a baker at the Drake Hotel in Chicago. He taught my mom how to cook and bake when they were first married. He helped her build her small repertory of dishes. However, dad was known for baking bread, the best fried chicken cooked in an iron pot, and holiday turkey or ham. My dad’s parents had a few small restaurants/diners in Chicago. They were both great cooks! I have a high school age nephew who has thought of culinary school. Ironically, initially being a chef was the realm of men. Now, women are breaking in!
Thanks for bringing in your family’s culinary history. Very impressive. The Drake Hotel is well known outside of Chicago. Do you enjoy cooking and/or baking too?
I don’t think I’m a great cook though every day I retreat to the kitchen as a nice counter-balance to writing: both involve a composition of sorts.
Every so often I tune in to Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa or The Pioneer Woman on the Food Network. Many American cooking shows use metaphors of war or worse, often taped under extreme time pressure: Chopped, Hell’s Kitchen, Cupcake Wars. PBS shows are usually tamer.
Thanks for tuning in today, Audrey!
My little secret – I think men look very sexy in aprons. But no man I know wears an apron. And me? Nope, I’m kind of with the chef up there in the top – an apron gets in my way.
Aprons aside, I also think men who wash and/or dry the dishes are also very sexy. 🙂
Yes, men willing to undertake domestic tasks certainly ease the path to other rooms in the house. Right? I wonder if women working on an engine has the same effect on the other side of the gender pole. Maybe a topic for you to explore in a short story, Pam!
I wash AND dry the dishes, sans apron. Guess I need one…………..
Only if you are messy, Jack! Thanks for sharing again here.
I think everyday I need an apron when eating – no matter what. I’m thinking of creating a big W I D E tie and always wearing it. One that onlookers would think is part of my attire, but in reality I’m disguised as a sloppy eater!
Creative idea: I think you are more conscious of sloppiness than many people, who may overlook stains that accrue while eating.
Both of my grandmothers wore aprons. My maternal grandmother with whom I spent a lot of time changed to a clean apron to go “uptown” to the store or if someone came to the door. She made me one which I wore in her kitchen. We now live in her house and I have one of her aprons hanging behind the kitchen door; I just can’t get rid of it. My mother and mother-in-law rarely wore aprons that I remember. I have a couple and wear them occasionally but they are inadequate. I need to get a decent one; I schmutz up my front something awful in the kitchen. I probably need to wear one when I eat because it seems like I often wear my lunch! I have searched half-heartedly for a pattern I like. This may prompt me to get serious about it.
Welcome, Sarah. It sounds as though your Grandma’s apron has become an icon on a hook in her house, now your home. I noticed you used the work “schmutz,” which makes me think you may have Swiss or German origins. I heard my mother say it often.
Best wishes on finding a good apron pattern. And do give us an update on your progress. I’d love to hear more. And thanks for stopping by to read and comment.
I’m of Serbian descent and most of my family lived in SW Penna. where I was born long ago. I remember my Grandfather helping Grandmother in the kitchen with a apron on.. My Father? Never did he wear one. I live in the central CA mountains now and I do 90% of the cooking at my house. My wife claims I made her fat., but I will not wear an apron. Simply put, I don’t think that I need to slop up the kitchen while cooking. BTW, if you ate my leg of lamb, you’d want to marry me. Keep up the great work on your website Marian.
Welcome to my website, Mr. RDB, and thank you for adding to our lively conversation here. Your wife is very lucky to have a live-in cook. Now I wonder who does the clean up. Ha!
Came back to read some of the other interesting responses and I’m quite flabbergasted (to use my Mom’s word) that so many say they never wear aprons. Very surprising. I only wear one when I’m dressed up and no time to change, but I just can’t quite fathom an out and out boycott of the practical accessory!
One other thought–my mother’s and grandmother’s aprons–who did wear them daily–always had an extra stained and worn area where their tummies rubbed the edge of the sink or counter. Do you know what I mean? Somehow I can see those worn out areas in my mind’s eye. Great stuff here!
I know exactly what you mean. Both Grandma L. and Mother had round bellies, and I remember now Grandma’s stained waistline, especially when she worked in the garden. Thanks for coming back again to comment; I am honored. It feels like a real conversation around a kitchen table, even if it’s a digital one. 🙂
I loved browsing through all of your wonderful photographs, Marian. Funny, no one in our family wears aprons. Even my grandmother, who was always cooking something into the kitchen, only kept a dishrag flung over her shoulder. Curtis is adorable in any type of apron!
I’m glad you enjoyed this flight of fancy and plain, Jill. I imagine your grandmother caught potential stains with a flip of her dishrag. Ha!
Curtis, then 11, is almost 14 now and has always been a good sport. He is probably tall enough now to wear his grandpa’s denim apron.
It is not the apron that makes a good chef, but the food they cook and how they prepare it and present it. My Dad also cooked every Saturday afternoon, but I can’t remember him every using an apron, just his house clothes. He Ade the best paellas I have ever tasted and I regret the fact that he never showed us how he did it, as he liked to cook alone. My husband and son also cook and they prefer wearing an apron, just like me. I love Curtis’s apron, it is almost like a Flamenco dancer’s dress and yes, they do aprons looking like them too. I am sure you can find them online, either for him or for Jenna. At the end of the day, what really matters is that young people want to cook for themselves and not buy so much junk food available these days. Happy cooking, apron or not.
You have a wonderful cooking heritage, Fatima. I’m sorry you didn’t get your Dad’s paella recipe.
Curtis is wearing my apron, a gift from a friend of mine who knew I love color. It does have a Flamenco vibe to it. He could do with a denim one now. Jenna’s mom (my daughter) keeps her supplied with aprons.
You are certainly right: “It is not the apron that makes a good chef, but the food they cook and how they prepare it and present it.” I’m guessing you cook a lot on the road as you are constantly traveling this year. Thanks for joining the conversation here with your own take on the topic. Very much appreciated!
Yes, I practically cook everyday in our motorhome: it is a home after all, with the advantage that you can take it with you everywhere and try the local food too!
I love my home, but sometimes (like now) I wish it had wheels. You have the best of both worlds, Fatima!
Aprons were important in our family and we all wore them. I still do when baking or when serving a dinner party wearing good clothes. It was the first thing we learned to make in Home Ec. An apron was always considered an appropriate gift, especially if it was home made. My cowboy Dad didn’t often wear one but there is a picture of him carving the Christmas turkey and he is wearing an apron. Hubby only wears them when he barbecues.I enjoyed reading the snippets from your memoir.
I enjoyed reading your “apron” family history. The first thing I remember making in Home Ec was a duster aka a house coat. It was pink, as I recall, and had a frilly collar. I wonder if you have any characters in your series wearing aprons. Thank you for reading the whole post, including the snippets, Darlene!
My son loves his apron! Aprons are genderless – and should remain so. Love all your different kinds of aprons.
You can tell from my post and photos that I heartily agree with you. I wonder what your son’s apron looks like – manly, or perhaps gender neutral. Thanks, Fiona.
I loved this post and I was sad to see it end! You have a way with words. I still have a little white apron with coloured polka dots and rick-rack on the pocket tucked in my drawer. My grandmother made it for my Mom, who shared it with me when I’d “help” her bake. Neither of us inherited a strong baking gene! 🙁 I’d love a new apron & must put it on my Christmas list! Something vintage…and maybe cherry red! What’d you think?
What I think: The girl with the green sassy boots most definitely need a cherry red apron. Vintage, yes! Maybe you could picture it on a Wordless Wednesda.
I’m glad you enjoyed this post as I always enjoy yours, Jenn.
Loved the excerpt from your memoir Marian!
I think back in the last generation, women wore more aprons. I know my grandmother always wore one. But no aprons existed in our homes, hence, I never wear one. But I do think they are fine for men, since so many men have become great cooks in our generation. 🙂
How do you do this, Debby – in the throes of a book launch and visiting so many blogs? Impressive!
Yet, if you are like me having a digital conversation with other writers helps balance the solitary life we writers lead. 🙂
Exactly Marian. I need a balance, a good escape. I learned 5 books ago that after ‘x’ amount of time on my book writing/publishing, I need to walk away from it for perspective change before going back to it. Reading blogs is a great diversion. 🙂
My dad was a cook’s helper, then a cook, then a chef, in his younger years before becoming a Christian and a pastor! He always wore an apron. Whenever Mother and Dad entertained they prepared the food together, both wearing aprons. It’s a great memory in my mind. Thanks for sharing this interesting subject!
I do remember your writing about the many “hats” your dad wore. Still, in each one he was in the helping professions – ha! I’m glad this post sparked good memories of your Mother and Dad. (I’m sorry this comment is so tardy, Anita. I don’t know how it got overlooked when you first replied here. So sorry!)
Thanks so much for adding to the conversation here.
Marian, the word “apron” itself conjures up memories of my mom and her mother. Always in an apron or with one in handy reach. My mom worked many school cafeteria and restaurant jobs and often made her aprons. A later in life memory is during the move for her from TN to OR. She didn’t ask about many things but simply trusted us in getting what she needed or wanted moved to her new place.
However, she constantly asked me if I knew where her aprons were. Mind you, at the time she had at least 45+ aprons on hand! What I remembered was packing them up. But what their physical location was at the moment she asked I couldn’t say for sure. I’d always respond that they were in a safe place. It seemed to satisfy. Thanks for the memories.
Packing up (gulp!) 45+ aprons, Sherrey. That’s an image I will never get out of my mind – just incredible. You say your mother worked many school cafeteria and restaurant jobs, so maybe that could account for some of them. Still!
It’s always special to hear from you. Thanks for adding such a memorable anecdote.
Marian, this is fun–as usual. I used to wear aprons for the messiest jobs like canning or grilling but don’t wear them much anymore. I have my home clothes (as opposed to my town clothes), so wear those for walks, gardening, and cooking. I also wear the home clothes for writing. If it’s a holiday and I don’t want to stain the fancier shirts, I still have aprons–one made by a friend and the other I bought for myself covered with peppers. They’re handy for carrying green beans from the garden.
I can’t remember Vic wearing an apron. He spent lots of time as the second in command in the kitchen–chopping vegetables, helping me harvest, and doing dishes, but he also had his house clothes vs teaching clothes. I might have seen my sons in an apron a few times, but never got a photo. Curtis, you’re a cool guy and I love your attitude. You deserve a manly apron like my dark blue one covered in red hot peppers.
Thanks, Elaine, for your utmost care when you respond to my posts with all the enlightening details of your family life. Cliff wears a denim apron whenever he eats because he’s messy, so he says. I will be sure that Curtis sees your salute to him. He’s always such a good sport and indulges my camera habit.
I think it’s interesting that your wear your home clothes for writing: after all, writing is work. I have thought of wearing a prayer cap when I write for capturing the mood. 😀
I love this, Marian! <3 Aprons were always part of our family kitchen attire… How wonderful that you have some treasured ones from yours. My aprons are all contemporary (except one I purchased at an antique shop). I do love my aprons! xo
You are so supportive, Bette, and I admire that. I also noticed the lovely apron you sported on Facebook recently. I think we both like extracting the “good” from the olden days, and use it to cheer up ourselves and others during these unusual months. Again, thanks for reading and commenting here. 😀
See? I told you I’d check it out. This one must have happened before I met you in the blog world. Interestingly, I never wear an apron, but my husband does when he is carving turkeys or hams for special dinners.
A few years ago I was invited to a bridal shower with the theme, “That thing you can’t live without.” We were to gift the bride-to-be with something we find invaluable. For me, it was a stoneware cooking sheet. Another friend of mine gave an apron. That was the thing she felt she couldn’t live with out. It was a curious idea to me because I never wear one. It’s a good thing the world is full of different kinds of people.
I’m not surprised at your comment here because you are Ms. Reliable Reader. The young man featured here is very young grandson Curtis, now on the loose with a drivers’ license! You’re great, Arlene! 🙂
I don’t use an apron , but when i am eating my grandmother puts me a bib like a baby, because i spill so much. I am 17 years old.
Welcome, Manuel. At 17 years old, your opinion counts. Thanks for commenting today. 🙂